Fresh trouble for Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Bala, others as court axes Umahi For violation of the electoral act for anyone to obtain multiple nomination forms.
Uncertainty now surrounds the ambition of Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal to contest next year’s senatorial election following Tuesday’s pronouncement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it is a violation of the electoral act for anyone to obtain multiple nomination form
Tambuwal was handed People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) senatorial ticket for Sokoto South last month soon after pulling out of the party’s presidential primary.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini, speaking on Channels Television, had described procurement of more than one nomination form by anyone as an offence under Section 115 (D) of the Electoral Act.
The Section stipulates thus: “A person who signs a nomination paper or result form as a candidate in more than one constituency at the same election [commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum term of imprisonment for two years].”
In similar fix as Tambuwal are Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed and Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi.
An attempt by Umahi to get the court to confirm his senatorial ticket for Ebonyi South was truncated yesterday after a Federal High Court in Abakaliki struck out his suit seeking recognition as the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate for the district.
Bala Mohammed got the PDP governorship ticket during the rescheduled primary held on June 4 for which he was the sole candidate.
Alhaji Ibrahim Kashim, winner of the first primary which was held before Mohammed lost the PDP presidential ticket, had withdrawn to pave the way for the governor in the fresh gubernatorial primary.
Igini, during the television interview, said: “Section 115 (D) of the 2022 electoral act stipulates that no person shall sign, obtain more than one form as a candidate for different elections.
“And the offence for that under subsection K, beyond the financial, he will go two years’ imprisonment.
“Some people are claiming that they participated in one election, that they filled two forms; it’s ignorance of the law and it’s not an excuse.
“We are preventing them from being candidates for prison and they are calling our names everywhere.
“There are many candidates that have done this. INEC can only point you in that direction; that’s what we can do.
“People walk their way to prison when they say that they bought two forms. Section 115 (D) prohibits that.
“In fact, subsection 3 of 115 says that even that attempt itself will be treated as the offence.
“If you bought two forms for different constituencies at the same time as a candidate; if they bought two forms like we have been hearing, they have run afoul of the law already.
“Because a state assembly election is a constituency, House of Representatives is a constituency, senatorial is a constituency, governorship is a constituency, presidential is one constituency.”
The commission has already declined to accept the names of Senate President Ahmad Lawan and the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio as APC senatorial candidates for Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North West respectively, saying their nominations did not conform with the law.
Lawan and Akpabio had originally obtained nomination form for their party’s presidential ticket.
Signs of INEC’s position first emerged on June 24 when it published the names of senatorial candidates in next year’s elections.
Conspicuously missing from the list were the names of Lawan, Akpabio and Umahi.
The names of Lawan, Akpabio and Umahi were submitted by their party, APC, just before the expiration of the deadline given the parties to submit their candidates’ names.
Honorable Bashir Machina had emerged as winner of Yobe North senatorial primary held in May before his name was substituted with that of Lawan. Machina had vowed that he remained the party’s candidate.
Retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) Udom Ekpoudom had also won the APC tickect for Akwa Ibom Northwest in the May primary.
Like Machina, Ekpoudom says he remains the party’s senatorial candidate for the zone and described the June 9 primary held after the APC presidential primary as illegal.
Akpabio has since gone to court seeking to be recognised as the APC candidate for the zone.
Explaining INEC’s position on the excluded persons at that time, the agency’s National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the commission had no obligation to publish the names of candidates that did not emerge from valid party primaries.
“If a political party submits to the Independent National Electoral Commission the name of a candidate that did not emerge from party primaries or did not emerge from valid party primaries, the commission is not obligated to publish the name of such a candidate,” he said.
However, Mr Okoye noted that INEC has not published the final list of validly nominated candidates.
“The final list of validly nominated candidates will be published by the Independent National Electoral Commission on the 20th day of September, 2022. And that is for presidential and National Assembly candidates.
“What the Commission has published, as of today, complies with Section 29(3) of the Electoral Act which says that the moment political parties comply with the provision of Section 29 (1) of the Electoral Act in terms of the submission of its validly nominated candidates, that the Commission shall publish the personal particulars of such candidates in the constituencies where the candidates intend to contest election.
“In other words, for instance for a senatorial candidate, if a senatorial district covers four local governments, we will publish the personal particulars of such a candidate in the four local governments.
“So that is exactly what we have done. And we published the personal particulars of candidates that emerged from valid party primaries. And that’s what the law says we should do.
“So, if the name of any candidate was not published, or if the personal particulars of any candidate was not published today, the implication is that such a candidate did not emerge from valid party primaries.”
Court strikes out Umahi’s suit seeking recognition as Ebonyi South APC candidate
In striking out Umahi’s suit seeking his recognition as the APC senatorial candidate for Ebonyi South yesterday, the Abakaliki Division of the Federal High Court held that the plaintiff had no locus to file the suit.
It said Umahi was not a candidate in the APC senatorial primary.
Justice Fatun Riman cited the same Section 115 of the Electoral Act which forbids a person from standing two different primary elections in the same year.
He also disqualified the governor’s brother, Austin Umahi, who had won the May 28 primary only to withdraw later.
INEC had left the position vacant when it pasted the names of National Assembly candidates last month.
Justice Riman said yesterday that INEC was right in rejecting the governor’s name as candidate of the party.
It held that APC cannot conduct a valid second primary without including the name of Mrs Ann Agom Eze who placed second in the first primary as she was the only candidate left in the election after Mr Austin Umahi’s withdrawal.
The court further urged the party to conduct another primary election to ratify the candidature of Mrs Agom Eze within 14 days.
Citing section 115 of the Electoral Act 2022, the court held that the governor was not an aspirant and cannot participate in the election or pre-election matters of the APC as regards the Ebonyi South zone.